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Russians and Australians Dominate Bali’s List of Foreign Drug Suspects

Narcotics-related arrests in Bali have increased by 46 percent this year despite a dip in other drug cases.
bali foreign nationals arrest drugs
Image by Peter Biela via Pixabay.

Foreign nationals have long been culprits in Bali’s drug scene. There were 15 foreigners arrested in Bali last year but that number has since doubled. And of the 31 foreign tourists arrested in 2019, most were either Russian or Australian.

These Russian and Australian suspects were caught bringing methamphetamines which are illegal in Indonesia, according to Gede Sujana, the Head of Drug Control, during a July 8 briefing where Indonesia's police released drug-related figures for the first half of the year. This briefing was reported by state news agency Antara.


The first six months of 2019 saw 441 cases involving narcotics on the island. While the cases specifically involving narcotics have increased by 46 percent between 2018 and 2019, drug cases as a whole decreased by almost 21 percent during that same period. Domestic arrests have also decreased despite the increase in foreign tourist arrests.

Sujana also stated that the majority of people involved in narcotics cases were men.

Both Australians and Russians feature in Indonesia’s top twenty international visitors. Australians accounted for 1.3 million of Indonesia’s tourists in 2018, in what is a significant chunk of the country’s booming tourism business.

Several Australians, such as Joshua James Baker, have been brought to Indonesian courts over drug charges. In May 2019, the Associated Press reported that Indonesian police arrested a Russian man who was caught working out cocaine prices on his phone. Four other foreign nationals were subsequently seized for selling cocaine on the island. The police were said to have “paraded” the felons at a press conference in Bali.

Perhaps all that parading was a warning. Indonesia is known to have some of the world’s strictest drug charges, which includes the death penalty.

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